Ask someone a question. If it requires some thought or idea searching, they might look away. And then, just like in animated movies, you will likely see a bright light bulb appear on top of their heads. In other words, they will have an ‘aha’ moment with finding the best answer for you. In scientific terms, this moment is called brain blink, and our workplaces today are desiring more of it.
However, brain blinks are also elusive. Mostly because of how long our to-do lists run, and the conditions under which we want to achieve them. The question – what will prompt our brains to blink more?
There are the tried and tested routes we recommend:
- Taking a lunch break of at least 30 mins, and sitting down to eat with colleagues.
- Creating space for quiet time – walks, journaling, meditation, or mundane activities like cleaning.
- Listening to your body clock, to know when you need rest, and when are you most productive.
But it’s not enough. Of late, leaders are realizing that our workplaces are becoming increasingly left brained – logical, numbers-oriented, siloed, with habitual ways of thinking. Skills that utilize intuition, inspiration, and imagination haven’t found a home within the corporate world. A chasm exists between our right and left brains, making brain blinks rarer. How to balance both? Bring play into the workspace. And this goes beyond ping-pong tables. It refers to a culture of fun.
Here’s making a case first, about what fun can do:
It makes us better employees. People are spending more and more of their time working, so they want to make the most of it by having a great time while they are there. This is especially true of millennials. Research studies show that having fun in the workplace increases overall employee productivity, and organizational citizenship behaviors – helping other colleagues, showing pride in the company, and stronger loyalty to the business.
It rewires our brain. Some of us might roll our eyes at the office team building activities that involve playing a sport, or karaoke night. But, what we don’t realize is that these activities light up what’s called the ‘default mode network’ in our brain, that signals our mind to look at problems in a new way. The novelty of trying something different or fresh can reshape your approach to a problem.
It builds leadership agility. Given the competitive global work landscape, and the pressure to perform flawlessly, it is easy for employees to get cynical or have a negative attitude – the exact things that hinder creativity. But, when activities like theatre, collaborative art making, or improvisations are introduced, they require employees to listen and be aware of the others, to have clarity in communication, and to possess the confidence to find choices spontaneously. In other words, collaborate, learn, and respond quickly and creatively to situations. These are critical leadership skills.
Companies like 3M and Boeing have an incredible track record, when it comes to their employee and ideation ratio. It is 1:1, i.e. each employee contributes at least one new idea for the company’s growth. And this comes from creating room for play, art, and unique ways of learning. If you too want that for your team, tune in for our next post to learn how!